Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
ASUS P5W DH Deluxe
- Strong performance
- Some layout issues, Expensive
This board has some nice innovations and comes with plenty of purpose-built applications, but it also has some complexities. It performed well in our tests and was easy to install. It has ample connectivity options and supports the latest Intel CPUs, but it does cost a lot.
Price$ 449.00 (AUD)
Based on the Intel 975X chipset, the ASUS P5W DH Deluxe is the company's first motherboard to support the latest Core 2 Duo processors. Its LGA775 CPU socket can also support Pentium 4 and Pentium D processors.
The board has a large array of connectivity options, including built-in 802.11b/g Wi-Fi, dual Gigabit Ethernet ports and eSATA, but it isn't as heavily stocked with internal SATA ports compared to previous high-end motherboards we have seen (which have eight ports). Seven ports are available on the board and these are widely spread. One is located inconveniently between the Wi-Fi module and the heat pipe that cools the chipset.
Multiple RAID options using different controller chips (and jumper settings) make this board quite fiddly. You can create RAID arrays using the built-in RAID capabilities of the Intel ICH7 controller (three ports), or the Silicon Image 4723 controller (two ports) or the JMicro controller (one port). The JMicro controller is the most interesting of the RAID options as it allows you to use the eSATA port as part of your RAID array. The eSATA port cannot be used as a hot-pluggable port if it is used as part of a RAID array.
For our tests, we used a 75GB Western Digital Raptor hard drive connected to the Intel ICH7 controller. We also used 1GB of Corsair DDR2 800MHz memory, an ATI Radeon X1900XTX graphics card and a Core 2 Duo CPU running at 2.4GHz. Its score of 126 in PC WorldBench 5 is up there with a similarly configured Athlon FX-62 reference machine.
We didn't experience any stability issues with the motherboard during testing. Its driver installation was a breeze: the convenient installer program installed multiple drivers in a single go and only required minimal user intervention. Swapping out a Core 2 Duo CPU and replacing it with a Pentium 4 CPU posed no problems for the board.
ASUS is targeting home users who want a board for a media centre PC. Along with Wi-Fi, it's also supplied with an infrared module and remote control, which can be used to manipulate the power state, fan settings, and media applications of your system.
Physically, the board has some layout problems. Apart from the aforementioned SATA ports, its two IDE ports are inconveniently located. We do like the extension plug that is provided for the front panel button and LED connections on your case. Instead of having to fiddle with individual connections on the motherboard while it's mounted, you can connect your case wires to the extension plug first and then plug that on the motherboard in one go.
For high end graphics performance, the board supports ATI's CrossFire technology via two PCI Express x16 slots.
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